Tommee Tippee sent me some of their new Ultra bottles in exchange for an honest review, so this is my experience of trying Evan with them.

I’ve always used Medela bottles because I had the Medela Swing breastpump and he was happy to use those bottles so I never bothered trying any different styles with him. I mainly breastfed Evan until he was around 5 months, weaning him off by expressing milk and giving him a bottle every naptime and bedtime. Now he’s almost 2 years old and shows no signs of giving up these last two sleep-inducing bottles. This is all new to me because Annie started refusing milk from a bottle just before she turned one but I don’t see any harm in Evan still having his bottles so I’ll let him wean off when he’s ready.

The Tommee Tippee bottle style is great; having the teat towards the edge means you don’t have to think about where you’re positioning the bottle so the baby should never be sucking air. It’s nice and wide and a really soft plastic teat, mimicking the breast during feeding.

Getting the lid on properly annoys me because the grooves weren’t as easy as my other bottles to screw in but this could have been because I’ve been using the other style bottles for over a year.  The lid came off when I was halfway through a feed with him, Stu had got me the bottle and wasn’t sure if he’d put the lid on properly though. I’ve been putting the lid on slowly while it’s on the counter which seems to do the trick – still more annoying than my old bottles though, I could put the lid on while I was walking up the stairs and didn’t have to think about it.

Despite the issues with the lid, I actually really love these bottles because they’ve been encouraging Evan to drink less milk. They’re harder work to drink from than his previous bottles, meaning he gets all the comfort he needs from the bottle but doesn’t fill himself with milk he doesn’t need. He’s gone from a 9oz bottle at naptime to a 3-7oz one and at night he was having 2 x 9oz bottles and that’s gone down to just one 9oz bottle.

He really loves the closeness of his two feeds, he’s such an active toddler that he never really wants to sit down for cuddles until he’s ready to sleep. This bottle taking longer to feed from makes it a bit more like a breastfeed, which would have been ideal when he was combi-feeding early on. I’ll be carrying on using these bottles just because he seems to enjoy feeding from them more than my old ones, even if the lid annoys me!

Tommee tippee ultra bottle

Tommee Tippee are currently running a number of competitions with an Olympic theme – events in smiling, crawling, laughing, etc. Have a look at their facebook page for more information and to join in, here’s Evan’s focusing hard on his favourite event – going down the slide. That’ll be in the Olympics soon won’t it?

Finding bright and vibrant baby clothes or childrens toys by colourful brands can be hard in a world of pastel pinks and blues but they are out there. I love bright colours because they instantly look more fun and they’re unisex, even if it’s a pop of bright pink! When it came to having children I was always going to put them in bright colours, playing with colourful things and enjoying the variety of it all! Although when the children were first born I went through the struggle between keeping my ideals of all natural, wooden toys that look amazing or giving in to the brightly coloured plastic toys that kids love and now we have a mix of both.

That’s what raising little humans is all about isn’t it, compromising between your parental ideals and what actually works. What’s great though is when you don’t have to compromise. Like with clothes, I love seeing them dressed in bright colours even if that sometimes means they’re wearing a fancy dress outfit to do the weekly food shop! So here are a couple of brands I love that are brightly coloured and fun but stylish too.

Clothing

Florrie and Max are an online retailer of beautiful childrens clothing, it’s all funky prints and soft fabrics – made for children who want to play. The cat print leggings and flamingo shorts that Evan’s wearing above are so fun and would look great on Annie too. Boden are always good for bright prints too – Annie’s wearing their new Florasaurus print dress below which combines flowers and dinosaurs to make a cute dress. I also love Little Bird by Jools Oliver with their retro vibe, unisex style and bright colours.

Travel

We’ve also always been big fans of Cosatto prints – again, the brightly coloured designs are stylish enough for parents and fun enough for children. Annie has both the Hello Dolly carseat and the Bloom because she needed one for the van and when Evan was born we got him the C Rex. I almost got him the Ooba travel system when he was born but went with the mountain buggy because I needed something I could use for running. Their designs are regularly updated and at the moment I love the Fox Tale and Magic Unicorns prints – gorgeous!

Toys and Books

For toys, as I said we started off with wooden things – a Moova rocking horse and pram were early presents for Annie and Evan loves them too now, they’re natural wood with pops of red. Their radio flyer wagon is also bright red, it’s a classic too. We also had a fisher price jumperoo (like most people!) which was a nice bright fixture in our house for 6 months each time.  I also found the ethical toyshop Oskar & Catie who do the most beautiful toys in a range of bright colours, perfect for baby gifts – one of the most adorable things I found was a wooden rocking boat.

My favourite childrens books are the Babylit Board books, not only have they got gorgeous bright designs but they’re all based on classics. Perfect for a book nerd like me. A lot of times of course you do just come across gorgeous brightly coloured things when you’re doing the weekly shop or out shopping. I love this paddling pool we picked up from Argos and the swimming costume Annie’s wearing was a £4 bargain from George at Asda. This picture has to be one of my all time favourites and the bright colours add to it!

Paddling Pool

You might also like Baby Must Haves: What you’ll need for the first year where I mentioned a few other brands I liked – along with explaining what worked for us.

 

running-after-baby

Running after pregnancy is hard. You have a tiny human depending on you, limited time to yourself, your body is still recovering from the pregnancy and birth and you’re exhausted most of the time as it is. But if you’re a runner you will probably want to get out and start running as soon as you can anyway! My experience of running after having a baby went well for the first few months until I got injured, then I started running less regularly once I started back at work and recently I’ve started training for a 10k that I’m running with Women’s Running UK so I’m building my distance back up. (If you’re also thinking of setting yourself a goal of running a 10k to motivate yourself, take a look at the Women’s Running 10k series here and use code: ABWR16 if you want 15% off the race entry.)

Evan is now just over 18 months old so not exactly a baby any more but I thought it would be useful to write down my journey to getting my fitness back after giving birth. I knew I wanted to start running as soon as I could after having my baby and I remember reading lots of ‘proper runner’ blogs about running after pregnancy. I had a goal of running a half marathon the year after I gave birth even though it was slightly out of my reach considering I only really ran 3-4 miles a few times a week before I got pregnant. It didn’t exactly go to plan!

I already wrote about running when pregnant but to recap, my last run was at 32 weeks and it was more of a jog / walk with an average pace of 12.09 min/miles over 3.4 miles. I had Evan at 36 weeks after a 2 day labour (being fit does not guarantee a short labour it seems!) and I remember being sat in the hospital googling half marathons for the following summer. I have never ran that far and I had just had a baby, so I don’t know where I thought I was going to get all the extra time and energy from.

I used to use MapMyRun so I can actually be precise with how my recovery after birth went, rather than totally rely on my shoddy sleep-deprived memory. My first run was just over a mile and I remember feeling a lot lighter but also a lot looser in my joints so I didn’t try to push it, Evan was 12 days old. It didn’t feel great so I left it a few more weeks before trying again so when he was 4 weeks old I ran 2.2 miles, the next day another 2.7 and a few days after that 3.5 miles. I was regularly running 3 – 5 miles by the time he was 6 weeks old.

running-after-pregnancy-times

I breastfed until he was 5 months, so you can still exercise if you decide to feed. I would time my runs after feeds and sometimes that would mean Stu would be waiting with a crying hungry Evan as soon as I got in the door, he was a very hungry baby. Sports bras weren’t great for feeding and I had to wear two while running for a while just to make sure there wasn’t much movement, I also had supply issues at times where I’d not had time to eat or drink enough after running before feeding. I would eat as much as I could while he was feeding to try and make up for the calories I’d burned – breastfeeding takes so much out of you anyway you really do need to eat a lot more especially if you’re small anyway.

Despite it being difficult at times, I remember really loving running. I would go out with my headphones in and enjoy having time alone for however long I was out, I had a preschooler who hadn’t yet started preschool and a newborn at home so time alone was precious. Unfortunately though, it was winter and a combination of trying to run too far, increase my speed and not warming up / down properly didn’t do my joints any good and I hurt my knee. It was nothing serious, I just needed to rest it. I would walk for miles with Evan instead and in the end I stopped trying to run alone, I started back at work and ran with Evan in his mountain buggy when I could.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve tried to give myself more time to run alone. My husband plays football and goes to the gym so I shouldn’t feel guilty about giving myself a bit of time to look after myself. Plus he started running too and like all grown ups we got competitive about who’s faster so I wanted to get out and time myself again – I’d stopped doing it when I was just running with the buggy. Turns out I’m the fastest, so all that buggy running helped get my speed up!

Also, Evan is a toddler now so doesn’t want to sit in the buggy as long as he used to which means I can’t run very far with him anyway. I’m now trying to build up my distance as slowly as I can because I’m really enjoying the time to myself and I don’t want to overdo it and injure myself again. I also love having a goal to work towards, it’s not the half marathon I thought I’d be doing but I’m just taking it one step at a time.

Evan also loves seeing me running, Stu took this video of me after I’d finished doing laps of the field we were playing in. It’s only 6 seconds but I love it, he was so happy to see me running over to him! That’s one of the best parts about running on my own, I’m always excited to get back to my little ones.

If you’re wanting to follow along with my journey to get to 10k – my first training diary is here or you can subscribe to my youtube channel here, that’s where I’ll be uploading all my training diaries. Let me know what your running goals are or what’s motivating you.

Lullaby Baby 1400px

I was sent a gorgeous lullaby album called Lullaby Baby to see if the kids enjoyed it and to see if it helped calm them down ready for their bedtime routine. My children are not big fans of sleep, both like to fight it as long as they can and both are early risers. They’re not the worst, I still manage to get 8 hours most nights and Evan still naps so I shouldn’t complain (though I often do!).

They tend to have a bit of a crazy hour before bed, bathtimes don’t relax them so they end up more excitable than when they got in. We’ll either play football in the living room or have a dance around to the music channels or sing some songs together to get rid of a bit of their energy. We’ll start with songs like wind the bobbin up and the grand old duke of york and end with calmer ones like twinkle twinkle little star and rock a bye baby. Then it’s on to the bedtime routine which for Annie can be quite long, though we don’t really mind!

Bedtime routine

Relaxing together and listening to Lullaby Baby with teddy and tickle.

We’ll sing in the car too if I’m trying to get Evan to nap and Annie to relax a bit, that has always been my failsafe. I’d drive around for ages when they were younger just to get them to finally give in and sleep, parking up at the beach with a drivethru coffee to keep me going or just a bottle of water if I didn’t want to risk waking them! I tried Lullaby Baby in the car at the weekend when I needed Evan to go to sleep and it worked – I ended up having to wake him.

Lullaby Baby is one of those albums that is relaxing enough to get Evan to sleep without winding me up and that’s mainly because the singer Martha Bean has a stunning voice that I actually like listening to. The beautiful lullaby Lavender’s Blue is on there too, you’ll know it if you’ve seen the new Cinderella, that is probably my favourite track on there. I probably shouldn’t admit to having a favourite lullaby though haha! As well as the lullabies there’s also instrumental versions which are so relaxing to listen to, they wouldn’t be out of place in a spa.

You can get the album on Spotify or iTunes and if your child is addicted to youtube like mine is, you can get some of their songs on their youtube channel. For more information see the website www.nurseryrhymes123.com

Evan is now 18 months old so I wanted to write an update to my blog post My first year as a Mum of two, which covered going from having an only child to having a preschooler and a baby. Now that Evan is a toddler and Annie seems so much older at 4 1/2 they have a completely different relationship to what they had 6 months ago.

Playtime

The biggest change is that Evan can play properly now, he will play independently or will bring toys to someone to get them to play with him. He would play with Annie all day long if he could but she gets annoyed at him for not playing the way she would like to and gives up. It’s better if they’re focusing on something else instead like when we’re all playing fetch with Bob or if we all play football in the living room, then they have an excuse to run around and laugh together rather than try and have imaginative play.

Jealousy

He’s really sociable and will chat with anyone in his own little language which is adorable. The problem with him being so adorable and sociable is that Annie does get a bit jealous that now the attention has shifted a bit from her – it used to be that people would coo over him and then talk to her but now he can interact with people himself it’s more 50/50.

Fighting

As well as jealously there is a fair bit of fighting that goes on. They fight over toys, where they want to sit, what show to put on TV, who gets to wear Annie’s old slippers (I dug them out for Evan because she barely wore them and they’re 3 sizes too small for her now), the list could go on! It’s worse when they’re both tired too so I’ll either take them out for a drive somewhere if I know they’ll perk up by the time we get wherever it is or I’ll try and separate them by getting the lego or playdough out for Annie.

colouring-in

This turned into a fight for Annie’s crayon

Leaving the house

Speaking of going out, as you may have noticed from my instagram feed, it’s not so tricky getting out of the house any more. Of course we have days where it’s a nightmare trying to get somewhere for a certain time but for the most part it’s better to get outside – they always get on better if we’re out exploring. And I always feel better for getting outside, especially as it keeps the house cleaner!

Housekeeping

Even since I wrote the blog post about cleaning cheats, this has become a lot easier. Evan joins in with the hoovering with his little toy dyson and Annie loves using the real one. She’s also been keeping her toys a lot tidier and I think that’s because she’s playing with them a lot longer now so she’s not getting as much out, so I’m mainly clearing up after Evan who is still as destructive! The house actually stays in pretty good condition at the moment, if someone dropped by unannounced it wouldn’t mortify me like it would have 6 months ago!

Food

One of the biggest pains to being a mum of two is feeding time, trying to cook or feed the baby while you’re making sure the older one is eating up. Now that Evan’s on pretty much the same food as Annie it’s a lot easier – he actually eats a lot better than she does at the moment. I’ve been trying out a lot more recipes to try and encourage her to have a bit more variety and she’s been joining me in the kitchen a lot too, she’s showing a lot of interest in cooking which is nice and it’s something that we just do together rather than trying to get Evan involved.

One on one time

I have Evan to myself most days while Annie’s at preschool and then Annie and I have a bit of alone time when he naps in the afternoon. We also have one afternoon a week where we go out somewhere, we call it our girls day. It’s probably bad that I’m admitting this but it’s normally the highlight of my week, it’s so easy taking a 4 year old out by herself and I love her little personality. The stories she will tell me are brilliant, her imagination is ridiculous!

Sleep

Evan is still not great at sleeping through and Annie is still sneaking into our bed every few nights (something she never did before we had Evan). I am hoping that it’s something she’ll just grow out of because she does do it less now than 6 months ago and Evan does sleep more than not, but I really didn’t expect to still be sleep deprived 18 months on – especially when Annie was sleeping through from pretty much 3 months old! Luckily I really like coffee.

When you look at it on paper having two children is really hard work and of course it’s easy to talk about the hard bits but it’s not so easy to put into words just how great it really is that we now have two children. When we go somewhere and they’ll chat in the car the whole time or hold hands it melts my heart and now that they’ll play together for a while (before it turns into a fight) it makes me so happy they have each other. They may be hard work but it’s a lot easier than it was and I feel so lucky to have them, it’s amazing to be able to watch their personalities develop as well as their bond.